Saturday, April 6, 2013

Thanks for your feedback

A couple of days ago I asked for feedback from potential readers as to the format(s) in which I should look to publish my forthcoming novels.  The results are in, and they're pretty conclusive.  Over 90% of respondents (either here in Comments, or by e-mail) said they preferred Kindle as an e-book version.  Other e-book formats (Nook, Kobo, etc.) attracted less than 10% support.  About 15% of potential readers indicated they'd like a paper edition.

This simplifies my initial publication plans.  I'll go with Amazon's KDP Select program to begin with, and look to widen my e-book net to include other formats within three to six months after publication.  (However, given that I plan to publish three books this year, if all goes well, that may slip into early next year.)  KDP Select gives access to certain promotional tools that will (I hope) be useful in spreading the word about my novels.  I'll also use Amazon's CreateSpace program to put out a 'dead-tree' paper edition as quickly as possible, for those of you who 'like a spine under your hands' (to quote some of the more . . . er . . . interesting comments in that earlier post!)

For readers of e-books who don't like or use Amazon's Kindle format, there's an easy way to solve the problem.  You can download Calibre, a (free, donation-supported) conversion program that makes one e-book format readable in another format (and is a pretty neat e-book reader in its own right).  This is a well known 'work-around'.  Someone using a Nook can simply run a Kindle book through Calibre to produce an Epub version, then download that to their Nook.  No problem at all - I did it yesterday, just to make sure it worked.  So, if you want to buy a book that's only available for the Kindle, you can now do so and convert it on your PC to run on your non-Kindle device.  If you have any difficulty with digital rights management restrictions (i.e. copy protection) on a file, there are ways to remove them from Kindle and other formats - see the work-around articles linked above.  (I won't publish my books using DRM if I can help it.  I don't know whether Amazon makes it mandatory for the Kindle or not.)

(There's another advantage to using Calibre as a central 'repository' for your e-book collection.  It can handle multiple formats, and has been upgraded over several releases to handle more of them.  I think it'll probably continue to do so.  That means, if you switch readers and e-book formats, you can take your old e-books with you to the new device.  Furthermore, you'll have your own backup of your e-books, not dependent on cloud storage or the control of a corporation.  If that company - Amazon or any other - determines that it wants to withdraw a book you've already bought, it can 'kill' every copy over which it has control.  However, it doesn't have control over your Calibre directories.  You're insulated against such measures.)

Alternatively, you can simpy download one or more versions of free Kindle Reader software, and read Kindle books on your PC, tablet or smartphone.  (I tried that on my new smartphone yesterday evening, and it worked like a charm.)

Thanks, everyone, for your feedback.  It's really helped me see where my initial efforts need to be concentrated.



Wayne Conrad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger Ritter said...

Read the KDP Select contract carefully - my understanding (and I haven't actually read the contract, so I could well be wrong) is that it requires that the book be exclusive for Kindle for a period of time. That might affect whether you can bring out the other formats in 3 months or so.

However you publish, I look forward to getting the book.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Neither Amazon nor the KDP Select program require DRM, nor will it be in your books. It's expensive to license, annoying to code in, and your wife has a philosophically-based hatred of the very concept.

Roger, the period is 90 days, so it wouldn't affect bringing the next book out. It will give me more time to practice not swearing at the conversion and upload programs, and mutter darkly about pagination into my tea.

I'm currently practicing with earlier drafts, so hopefully it won't be too long after the ebook is ready and comes out that the print book follows...

Rev. Paul said...

Something else to consider: Amazon features a "cloud reader" for those with a Kindle account. You can read anything you've purchased while logged into your Kindle account, without any additional software. For that matter, you can listen to any music you've purchased through Amazon, the same way.

SarlS said...

If you were to publish in the plain vanilla PDF format, your book could be read by anyone anywhere at anytime. All the other formats cause platform dependencies.

Anonymous said...

@SarlS - PDF comes with it's own complications, mostly associated with formatting and managing layout during the reading process; e-readers, regardless of brand, and designed to make the reading experience easy and trouble free. There's a reason Kindle, Nook and the Sony e-reader were not designed around PDF.

And, most important, it's possible - and remarkably easy - to download a document in PDF, convert it to Kindle, and utilize the "send to Kindle" feature. A great many people with Kindles, however, are not of a mind to engage in what appears to them to be the legerdemain necessary to accomplish that. I think Peter's making the right choice in selecting Kindle. As example, I've been seeing the "read in Kindle" option in a number of blogs lately.

Noons said...

Completely agreed on Calibre. I've got both a Kobo and a Kindle, and I get lots of pdf's from work.
With that program, it's child's play to convert into the adequate format for wherever I'm reading.
One of the remaining truly useful utilities.

Home on the Range said...

I look forward to it. . in paper perhaps for we old fashioned types. :-).

I'll call D. tomorrow with my weekend off schedule for April an May for a visit!

Tom Bridgeland said...

I put my first novel up on Kindle just a few days ago. A very interesting experience. I am disappointed in how the formatting came out. Not nearly as pretty as I had hoped. I'll have to study up and figure out how to make a better product. I wrote a short article about the process here: